This title had so much potential behind it. An RPG where you play as a vampiric doctor in 1918 London? Hell yeah, I’m sold. Who wouldn’t jump for joy at that description? It’s refreshing, it’s intriguing, it’s not battle royale, it’s got all the makings of an A+ game. So assuming that something doesn’t go wrong during release, then everything should work out fine, right? Right?
Well, it seems that even the most interesting ideas can be stomped out for the sake of appealing to a larger audience. Which is a real shame, ‘cause there’s a lot of notable bright spots in Vampyr when you look for them. The plot deserves close attention as it was one of the few things that kept pulling me back into the game’s world. Long story short, you play as Jonathan Reid, a military medic turned vampire who’s caught up in the middle of a brutal battle between vampires and humans.
Actually, the vampire and human conflict aside, Jonathan doesn’t really care about most of that stuff throughout the game’s story. He’s more concerned with the fact he is a vampire, rather than the conflict itself, which I like a lot more honestly. There’s a lot of great character building moments that help make Johnathan more relatable and his unwillingness to let go of his humanity gives more layers to his personality. That is, until he starts eating people, that’s when ol’ Reid starts to lose me a little.
On the topic of eating people, let’s get into the gameplay. One of the more talked about features in Vampyr is the ability to mesmerize and kill NPCs. This was a feature that I utilized the hell out of when playing due to it being one of the best ways to gain XP. Interestingly enough, the more you complete side-missions for NPCs and cure them when they become ill, the more XP their blood gives you when you take them out. So not only are side-missions useful, but they also create a neat little dilemma for the player. Do you kill and drain this character that you’ve grown fond of in order to increase your strength and stamina? Or do you let them live because of the genuinely enjoy who they are as a person? Decisions, decisions.
Of course, you may kill the NPCs anyway because of what they put you through mission wise. Here’s a quick tip for all those out there who want to give this game a try: there is always going to be combat regardless of what type of mission you’re doing. As well, here’s another quick tip: combat in Vampyr is repetitive, clunky, annoying, and overall, boring. None of the weapons you use have any real impact to them and your movement is floaty which feels pretty unsatisfying. The special moves are a nice touch, but you can only use them for a limited time before they become useless which adds another frustrating element to an already wonky system.
That being said, the combat was the lesser of two issues I had with Vampyr. The second being the consistent freezing and crashes. Four times this happened to me during my playthrough which is kind of the last thing you’d want on release day. Honestly, there were several moments when I just wanted to walk away from the game. But I didn’t. Why? Well, again, it’s because of that story I mentioned earlier. If you’re going to take anything away from this piece, let it be that, despite its flaws, there is a really nice story to be told here. One that you have to work for - in multiple ways - but you’ll be glad that you did.
The last thing I wanted to bring up in regards to Vampyr is the title’s use of tone. Now I had made mention at the beginning of this piece that Jonathan Reid was a really interesting character until he got the munchies. That’s where the problem arises when discussing the game’s tone. I know I praised mesmerizing and the dilemma it can bring, but the ability to have a casual conversation with someone in one moment only to start eating them in the next is just a wee bit jarring. In short, it feels like things are unfocused. For example, throughout the plot we know that Reid is struggling with what he is becoming, but in gameplay we don’t really see that. Whenever you mesmerize and chow down on someone, Reid doesn’t feel remorse for his actions, there’s no “Oh, what have I done?!” to keep a consistent tone with his character. Rather, he does what he does and that’s the end of it, which is really unfortunate. I suppose I was looking for more of an impact overall, but alas, what’s there is there.
So, with that being said, do I recommend Vampyr? Well, when all is said and done, no. I like the ambition that this title has and the vast amount of character and story depth that’s on display, but there isn’t enough of it to really keep selling the game for me. Not only that, but the technical issues on top of the lackluster combat just really killed the experience. So all in all, save your money for another time.
Vampyr (Reviewed on Windows)
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
Vampyr is a game that's mainly focused on telling a good story and developing its characters, which it does respectably. That being said, things such as combat, mission variety, and even hardware, end up getting put to the wayside. All in all, it's a rather bleak experience.